Tyler Lane pulls up a wooden marker covered with oily sludge in the land behind his Bristow home. Lane uses stakes and rope to keep his two children out of the oiliest, most dangerous parts of his property, which sits atop the abandoned Wilcox Refinery, Oklahoma’s newest Superfund site.
You can’t see it from street, or when you look out the window of Glen Jones’ parents’ house, but the Wilcox Refinery is still here. Parts of it, anyway.
In December 2013, the abandoned refinery complex near Bristow became Oklahoma’s newest federal Superfund site. The Wilcox Refinery closed more than 50 years ago, but lead and other toxic chemicals remain, and residents are uneasy about the long cleanup ahead.
Public Service Company of Oklahoma — which provides electricity to more than a half-million Oklahomans — can move ahead with plans to retire its coal-fired power plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.
The agreement between the utility, state, and EPA is expected to bring PSO into compliance with regional haze regulations, the federal government’s effort to clear the air at national parks and wildlife refuges.
The looming Dec. 31 expiration of the federal production tax credit for renewable energy helped drive a last-minute rush to start construction on wind energy projects around the country and in Oklahoma.
Developers had to start construction by 2013 to qualify, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports, “but the wind industry fears another bust if the credit isn’t renewed.”
When the 2014 legislative session starts Feb. 3, state lawmakers will face more than 2,000 bills and resolutions, and are expected to have $170 million less to spend than last year. They will also be confronted by agency heads, most of which will argue, publicly, for more money.
Many of the bills under consideration this year address revenue and spending, directly. Republican measures to cut the income tax, for example, or gross production taxes on oil and gas activity the energy industry would like to reduce.
State leaders expect a $170 million shortfall. This year's budget was just half a percent larger than five years ago, without adjusting for inflation. And projections estimate a deficit of up to $2 billion by 2035.
Signs warn excavators to call before digging near underground pipelines, but many entities are exempted from such rules. And no state agency has the authority to punish those who cause digging-related pipeline accidents.
“Oklahomans talk a good game when it comes to compressed natural-gas powered vehicles,” the Tulsa World‘s Randy Krehbiel writes.
Gov. Mary Fallin has been particularly aggressive in pursuing CNG vehicles, and joined with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in a well-publicized effort to pressure major car manufacturers to make more CNG-powered models.
So how much progress are Oklahoma governments making on converting fleets to CNG vehicles?
World Views host Suzette Grillot is in the middle of a four-city tour of China on behalf of her day job as the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. She lived in Beijing for a semester as a teaching fellow at Beijing University in 2007, but she’s there now with the College’s Assistant Dean, Rebecca Cruise.